Arriving at the leafy grounds of Gilwell Park Scout Activity Centre in London, Rayburn’s Nicky and I (Megan) were all set for the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom’s (CLOtC) 8th annual conference and awards ceremony held on Thursday 26th November 2015.
Safe to say it was a brilliant turn out, with 180 teachers and providers of experiences outside the classroom all brought together. Of course everyone had their own reasons for attending, but all were there to collectively support a cause they strongly believe in –improving learning opportunities outside the classroom environment.
Since its establishment in 2009, CLOtC has striven to help schools and providers give high-quality experiences beyond the classroom that support the needs of young people. CLOtC CEO Elaine Skates states that getting students outside the classroom ‘transforms the lives of young people’ by improving their skills and character attributes.
Today, there are 933 accredited providers (us included!) who have been awarded the LOtC Quality Badge for offering excellent learning beyond the classroom, as well as 97 schools who have achieved LOtC Mark – a national accreditation recognising and supporting the development of LOtC across all subject areas.
The focus of the day was improving character development opportunities which will help lead to academic success, with a variety of engaging speaker sessions and insightful indoor and outdoor workshops (luckily the weather was on our side and we managed to practise what we preached without getting too cold or wet!).
One workshop which really caught our eye was held by Learning Away, highlighting the importance of residential learning through their 5-year research project. Project Leader Peter Carne OBE and Project Advisor Siân Williams filled us in on the key research findings, emphasising that ‘a residential learning experience provides opportunities and benefits that cannot be achieved in any other educational context or setting’, Learning Away Final Evaluation Report, York Consulting June 2015. Find out more about the research and the numerous benefits of a residential trip here.
The evening awards ceremony recognised and congratulated inspirational nominees and winners for their dedication to the cause. Five thousand votes were whittled down to just four outstanding winners in the categories of Best LOtC Advocate, Best LOtC Innovator, Best LOtC Inspiring Educator and Lifetime Achievement in LOtC.
Proud winner of the LOtC Inspiring Educator award, Nick Hastings, gave a piece of advice to anyone thinking about taking students out of the classroom: ‘There’s nothing like getting ‘hands on’ – just talking to children loses their concentration.’
There was so much to take away from the day, but the key message was that for a rounded education students must experience learning beyond the classroom as well as within. As voiced by influential campaigner Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO, CBE, ‘education is not just about getting 5 A-Cs’, but instead, ‘helping young people to give more and get more from their lives.’ Dame Julia, we couldn’t agree more.
Take a look at the highlights from the day in our video…
Missed this year’s conference? Catch up with everything that happened here!